Arts, Column

Vathanakul: Who’s Excited for the 2024 Oscars?

It has been a hectic year for major motion pictures, from the internet craze of “Barbenheimer” to the international debuts of Past Lives and Anatomy of a Fall.

The excitement begins as the 96th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel for the fourth time, will air on March 10 at 7 p.m. on ABC.

The most renowned award show returns with a phenomenal list of motion pictures nominated for “Best Picture”: Anatomy of a Fall, American Fiction, Oppenheimer, Barbie, The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, Poor Things, Past Lives, and The Zone of Interest

This year’s picks come close to last year’s selections in terms of diversity in genres and film origins. In 2023, Everything Everywhere All at Once claimed victory, benefitting from Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s creativity and cinematic execution on an interdimensional look at the multiverse. This year, it has become more difficult to place a bet on which movie is going to snatch the golden statue. 

The most anticipated winners are Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking cinematic masterpiece, Oppenheimer, or Greta Gerwig’s uplifting feminist message in Barbie. Considering its box office success, Barbie takes the lead after winning Cinematic and Box Office Achievement at the Golden Globes. Gerwig’s creativity and artistry reached all types of audiences, establishing her directorial skills. 

Though Gerwig is not nominated for “Best Director” and nor is Margot Robbie nominated for “Best Actress,” Gerwig’s sensational screenplay for Barbie and other components of the film are nominated for eight Oscars overall. The nominees include Ryan Gosling for “Best Supporting Actor,” which he openly protested against in his statement on Gerwig’s snub. 

“There is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie,” Gosling said in a critique of Barbie’s awards snubs. 

Oppenheimer stands to be an eminent film in Nolan’s filmography and cinematic experience as a whole. After coming out of an IMAX screening of Oppenheimer, I know I have never seen a movie so intricate and immersive. The story goes beyond the screen as Nolan captures the essence of biopics while diversifying perspectives, adding necessary controversy to J. Robert Oppenheimer’s character. 

In honesty, Oscar watchers know their best bet for “Best Picture” is Oppenheimer, but this does not mean to disclude other honorable nominees. 

The renowned Martin Scorsese produced another thriller, Killers of the Flower Moon, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and breakout star Lily Gladstone, of which the latter two both earned nominations for their incredible acting. Gladstone has snatched a SAG award and a Golden Globe for “Best Actress” already this year, raising the bar for the other “Best Actress” nominees. Overall, Killers of the Flower Moon offers a meticulous look into Native American culture and landscape, differing from Scorsese’s usual all-American gang thrillers.  

Another highly acclaimed nominee is Poor Things, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, which could take the victorious title home. The strange and unique characters, setting, plot, and ambience reflect greatly on experimental cinema, earning a revered reputation for crossing cinematic boundaries. 

Unlike Poor Things’ achievements, Bradley Cooper’s highly anticipated film Maestro turns out to be Oscar bait rather than a deserved nomination. The film is an amazing telling of the legendary Leonard Bernstein, but the two-hour biopic is slow-paced and ends up being a bore.  

Cooper’s embodiment of Bernstein is commendable, gaining a nomination for “Best Actor.” In the same category, Paul Giamatti’s portrayal of Paul Hunham in The Holdovers and Jeffrey Wright’s depiction of Thelonious “Monk” Ellison in American Fiction are all on equal footing. 

What I did not see coming was a nomination in “Best Picture” for Celine Song’s directorial debut with Past Lives. Given the emotional depth of this film filled audiences with tears and heartbreak, the winning title may be far from its reach. Still, Past Lives is a picture that deserves worldwide recognition as the romantic journey offers a truthful portrayal of bittersweet endings, reflecting on many relationships and love stories. 

This year’s “Best Director” nominees are, once again, all male. Though many female-produced pictures are on the rise, they rarely make the Oscars’ cut. Being in favor of Oppenheimer, this is finally Nolan’s moment to snatch the “Best Director” and “Best Adapted Screenplay” golden statues after many losses. 

Another list of nominees that is impossible to bet on is the “Best Animated Feature,” which includes Elemental, Nimona, Robot Dreams, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and The Boy and the Heron. 

As a die-hard Studio Ghibli fanatic, Hayao Miyazaki may take another Oscar home after his win with Spirited Away more than two decades ago. The Boy and the Heron was an impressive nine-year process with Miayzaki’s combination of fantasy and his private life. The intricate animation of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, however, is so distinctive that it sets a new standard for the presentation of animation films. 

As a chronic Oscar viewer, this year’s list of films are neck-in-neck to achieve a winning title. I believe this is Nolan’s best chance to win yet, along with other potential winners for Oppenheimer—Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Hoyte van Hoytema, the cinematographer, and Ludwig Göransson, the composer. 

March 10, 2024